Frank Kaminsky was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and, to put it bluntly, fans were not happy. After all, they had passed on a superior long term prospect in Justise Winslow, for an NBA ready big man that doesn't play like a traditional big man with all the makings of a traditional bust. He's big, but can't rebound. National player of the year, but not incredibly athletic. He's white. It sounds like so many busts before him, but that doesn't really matter. Kaminsky is in Charlotte to stay so lets figure out what he brings to the table.
For starters, the skill he's bringing to the NBA that everybody assumes will be a huge part of his game is the ability to shoot 3-pointers. Despite being a 7-foot-1 big man, Kaminsky can stroke it from deep as well as any wing player the college game was offering up this season. 41 percent from deep his final season in college, and a consistent improvement from that range every season, gives the Hornets hope in improving their woeful 3-point shooting. They finished dead last in field 3-point field goal percentage last season, and Kaminsky showed NBA range in college.
It's that NBA level range that's going to get Kaminsky out on the court, but if he wants to stay out there then he'll obviously need to be skilled in other areas. Gone are the days where a pure shooter can play massive minutes, but luckily Kaminsky brings more than shooting.
An area of Kaminsky's game that was often overlooked in college was his ability to set screens. This likely had to do with the pick and roll not being as prevalent in the college game as it is in the NBA, but Kaminsky has the potential to become a great screen man with guys like Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker.
Kaminsky's shot chart from his junior and senior year shows that Kaminsky didn't seem to have too much issue getting to the basket in college. Obviously, he'll be going up against stronger competition in the NBA, and that might not be as easy for him. However, his touch down low should allow him to be a decent threat on the roll, and his stroke from the outside makes him outright dangerous when slipping out. His 7-foot-1 body isn't easy to get around, and quick guys like Kemba Walker can use this to gain easy penetration while Kaminsky floats out to the 3-point line. Hornets fans should be happy about this, because this means less long twos on the pick and roll, and better spacing for Al Jefferson and Walker to get to the rim.
Of course, offense is only one side of the game, and Charlotte is a team that has defense in their identity. Kaminsky will need to show that he's not a bad defender if he wants to get on the court. This could be an issue due to his lack of athleticism, low speed, and a body type that doesn't lend itself to protecting down low with other big men. Luckily for Hornets fans, Kaminsky has other areas that shows promise as a defender.
In the video above, Kaminsky is going up against Jahlil Okafor. This is obviously a highlight package of a college game so a grain of salt will be necessary, but throughout the video Kaminsky is showing quick feet, and the knowledge of how to use his length to an advantage. Kaminsky already is pretty solid on rotations, and being with a defensive minded coach like Steve Clifford should only help him become even better with that. There's enough potential here to believe that Kaminsky can be an average defender at the NBA level. He won't be shutting down very many players, and bigger guys are going to post up on him a lot, but being liable is not out of the question.
Where Kaminsky's talent really starts to shine through however is as a creator. He can get his own shot down low in the post, and has an underrated passing ability. Hornets fans might get reminiscent of Josh McRoberts when watching Kaminsky out of the high post. His greatest example as a creator might have been what he did to Kentucky.
When taking on Kentucky in the Final Four, Kaminsky went up against the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, and a murderers row of athletes that should have eaten him alive. Instead, he manhandled one of the greatest teams ever put together, and it wasn't a group of nobodies. That Kentucky squad had an incredible defense that Kaminsky dominated. He forced switches, picked the defense apart with his passing, and dominated in the post in a performance that was entirely necessary to knock off a team as talented as Kentucky. Kaminsky's greatest play is at the 2:03 mark of the video, where he posts up defender from the 3-point line, and just bullies his way to the rim with incredible footwork. He obviously won't be able to do that in the pros, but the skill he showed has to get fans excited.
Unfortunately, that excitement will need to be tempered a bit as Kaminsky is not without his flaws. There's legitimate reasons for why fans weren't very happy with his pick. One common reason is that his ceiling as a player feels very low. The skill set Kaminsky is entering the NBA with is unlikely to change, and he probably won't be a very different player three to four years from now. There's also still concerns about his defense at an NBA level. He struggled to prevent players from establishing deep post position in college. The post up game might not be what it once was, but Kaminsky will still struggle with preventing bigger and faster players from easily reaching the rim if he's guarding it.
All of that said, Kaminsky comes into the NBA with a unique skillset that should in no way be labeled as high bust potential. He's very good at skills he's praised for like shooting, and underrated in other areas such as ball handling and rebounding. His defense is a real concern, but if any team is going to make something out of him on that end it's this one.
Still not sold? This compilation video from Dakota Schmidt might ease those nerves. Kaminsky will be fine.